HTML 5 - A Suggestion

by Tina Holmboe 13th of January 2010 (archive)

A long time ago today I was, for a little while, involved with the HTML 5 work. It was a bad few months for everyone, culminating in questions asked as to whether I could be barred from entering the HTML WG. By that time I was pulling away, and focusing on XHTML 2, as an invited expert to the XHTML WG.

That, too, has now come to an end, as the XHTML WG has not had its charter renewed.

HTML 5 has gone on, amidst much controversy. From some it has been heralded as progress. From others concern is raised that, yes, it’s moving, but not forward — rather backwards.

I’m among the latter. Granted, the Bluetooth bits were removed from the specification, but the MARQUEE element was included for the first time in HTML’s somewhat chequered history.

All is not lost, however, and so I’ll make a suggestion even knowing very well that the likelihood of anyone reading it is slim to none, and that expect it to be followed is far, far less.

There is no reason why we can’t start anew. First of all we based HTML 5 on XML. The name can be kept; no rule state that any XML–based language must have an X in the name. Secondly, we include the basic set of structural elements with defined semantics from HTML.

And then we STOP. End of story, as far as HTML 5 goes. But not the end of story as far as all the work that has been done is concerned. Everything outside of what I describe above we move into separate specifications, with clear, well–defined, goals.

Want a web app? Use a basic HTML 5 document, and include — using extension mechanisms already in place in XML — the WebAppML™ language; also XML–based.

Want a purely structured language? Again use a basic HTML 5 document, and include elements from the StructureSemanticsML™ language. Smaller, leaner, more efficient working groups can liaise with experts in various fields to produce specialized languages which can, thanks to XML, all be used with HTML 5.

Browser support? Many popular browsers already understand XML. They might have to change to understand it fully — but change they must, no matter what, if we want progress. And isn’t progress the name of the game?

PS: Did you know that, save for a few details, XHTML 1.1 is the language I described above?